Saturday, October 6, 2007

Blade Runner

I went to see this with my two brothers (visiting from Pittsburgh and San Francisco) at the new Landmark Theatres at Westside Pavilion. I was able to purchase the tickets and select seats online (The Landmark has reserved stadium leather seating...) Despite the show being sold out and the theater having reserved seats, when we arrived some idiot was sitting in one of our seats and another moron had piled her sweater, purse, backpack, coat and food in another. Seriously people, reserved seating at a sold-out show means you don't get to snag an empty seat for whatever you want. But it was empty...Well, that's how reserved seating works. I don't need it to be reserved if I'm sitting in it! I need the reservation to prevent YOU from sitting in it. Anyway, we had awesome seats. I'm a leftie so I always prefer to sit on the left. Our seats were on the left side, in the first tier--so no-one sitting right behind us kicking the back of the seat.

This was the Final Cut of Blade Runner. I last saw this movie so many years ago, I could barely remember it. I knew that Harrison Ford played a cop named Dekard whose job it was to track down rouge Replicants and "retire" them. I remembered Ford chasing a bikini clad Joanna Cassidy and killing her, and the acrobatic S&M scene with Daryl Hannah and the final showdown with Rutger Hauer on the rooftop--and wouldn't you know? That's basically the entire movie.

Released 25 years ago, but set now only 12 years into the future, the film is an interesting mixture of sci-fi and noir. I'm sure 25 years ago, flying cars and androids seems a possibility for 2019 but they don't seem too likely now in 2007. Also, why is it that future earth always looks a lot like present day Tokyo in sci-fi flicks? There was a lot of smoking in this movie--which, along with Sean Young's retro hairstyle (how in the world could anyone including Rachael herself NOT know she was a Replicant? She even walked like a robot...) gave the film a noir feel.

In fact, Ridley Scott seemed to have a love affair with photographing smoke, rain, diffused light. The film's cinematography is gorgeous and gives it its artistic value much more than the very basic story of four escaped Replicants who don't want to die and the Blade Runner tasked with terminating them. There has been much discussion over whether or not Dekard himself was a Replicant. The Asian who trails along after Dekard places origami animals where the Replicants are found. At the end of the film, as Dekard is leaving with Rachel, he finds an origami unicorn. Earlier in the story, Dekard dreams of a unicorn--the mystical, mythological creature which, as Marianna Mayer observed (The Unicorn and the Lake),

"The unicorn is the only fabulous beast that does not seem to have been conceived out of human fears. In even the earliest references he is fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, but always mysteriously beautiful. He could be captured only by unfair means, and his single horn was said to neutralize poison."
Other clues include the oddly non-reactive pupils of Replicants and when Rachael asks Deckard: "You know that Voight-Kampff test of yours? You ever take that test yourself?" According to Wikipedia, Phillip K. Dick who wrote the short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? wrote the character of Dekard as human, the original screenwriter Hampton Fischer also wrote the character as human and Harrison Ford has stated that he played Dekard as human. Only director Ridley Scott has asserted that Dekard is a Replicant. Still, it makes for an interesting debate...

Ultimately the film is about the will to live, the desire to survive. The Replicants showed far more of this primal instinct than Dekard--until the final showdown on the rooftop with Roy Batty. The movie is a marvel of atmosphere and special effects. You feel drenched by the unceasing rain, straining to see in the murky shadows, drained by the strain of the hunt and the struggle to survive. If you have a chance to catch it on the big screen, you should definitely see it!

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